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Chapter Twenty-Two. Japanese-American Relations: The 1906 California Crisis, the Gentlemen's Agreement, and the World Cruise

David S. Patterson


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Two issues, one domestic and the other foreign, dominated the last three years of Theodore Roosevelt's presidency. Although several domestic questions then required TR's attention – regulation of railroads, the meat packing and food industries, and the problems of the “trusts,” for example – arguably the most persistent one during these years was the conservation of the nation's natural resources, and his several successful initiatives in this area would further enhance his reputation as a pre-eminent President of progressive reform. The overriding foreign policy problem at the same time was without question a continuation of his preoccupation with Japan's meteoric rise as the dominant military force in East Asia. Having successfully mediated a negotiated peace ending the Russo-Japanese War in 1905, for which he was awarded the Nobel peace prize, TR soon found that escalating US tensions with Japan fomented a diplomatic crisis and the possibility of war with that nation. At times, particularly in the first stages of the difficulties, he was mostly reactive to events beyond his control; but at other times he was more assertive, even a risk-taker, in his approach to Japanese-American relations. Diplomacy is perceived as the art of the possible, but sometimes the possibilities are effectively circumscribed by other complicating factors. So it was with the actions of the San Francisco ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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